food in the arts



Dir: Alfonso Arau/ Prod: Alfonso Arau/ Language: Spanish with English Subtitles/ 1993/ 105 mins
Like Water for Chocolate Like Water for Chocolate

The story revolves around the illegitimate child Tita, the youngest of three sisters who because of family tradition must stay unmarried so that she may care for her mother. She is content with this role until she meets the love of her life, Pedro. They both fall in love the minute they lay eyes on one another. Pedro asks Tita's mother for permission to marry her youngest daughter, however Elena refuses his request and instead offers Pedro permission to marry Rosura. In order to be close to Tita he accepts Rosura's hand in marriage and moves onto Mama Elena's estate. Pedro's constant flirtations with Tita do not go unnoticed my Mama Elena and she is always trying to keep them separated. Tita, unable to express her true feeling for Pedro releases her emotions into her food. This leads to some interesting meals for the diners.

There are seldom moments in this film when there is neither a kitchen nor food in view. Tita's true home is in the kitchen. She is at work throughout this film preparing meals. The funniest moments of this film are when the diners get to experience Tita's emotions when they eat her cooking. As everyone starts to eat the meal at Rosura's wedding they all begin to cry and mourn for lost loves. At another meal that Tita has prepared while feeling quite passionate, one of her sisters is so affected that she runs off with a revolutionary. Another interesting food moment is when Tita is preparing quail; unplucked quail lie next to plucked and cleaned quail. However, the plucked and cleaned quail are twice as large as their feathered friends and bear a remarkable resemblance to large Cornish game hens. The food in this film is often simple but occasionally as elaborate as the dishes seen in films such as A CHEF IN LOVE.

In the early 20's in Mexico a passionate love story unfolds in a magical atmosphere of desire, rebellion, repression, tradition, big secrets and long silences. Laura Esquivel tells Pedro and Tita's story. To be close to Tita, sacrificed by her mother's egoism, Pedro marries her sister. Amongst the many ways Pedro and Tita communicate their love, food is very eloquent. Their passion is like the boiling point of water for hot chocolate. Tita exercises her culinary ability in a wonderful torta "Chabela" expressing her love for Pedro.

This homage to the transmutation of love through food opens with the birth of the extraordinary cook Tita: "fed by Nacha, Tita grew up in the kitchen amid the smells of the kitchen, chicken soup, thyme, laurel, steamed milk, garlic, and, of course, onion." And it is soup - Chencha's bowl of magic beef broth - that restores Tita to life after she suffers from a nervous breakdown. As she comes back from the brink of madness and speaks, Chencha says, "Broths can cure any type of illness, be it physical or mental."



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 Like Water For Chocolate (vhs) [1992]
Extract from the Film
Les Épices de la passion) (dvd)  
chic chocolate

Chocolate in books